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Newton season ends as Kappelmann leads 44-0 Liberal victory over Railers
Liberal outgains Newton 518-120 and advances to host Maize.
LIBERAL — As Newton quarterback Colby Gomez walked off Redskin Field for halftime of his team’s first-round KSHSAA 5A-West playoff game against Liberal, his frustration was visible.
The Railers trailed 20-0 and failed to put points on the board prior to the break after driving deeper into Redskins territory than they had all night. One could conclude that the emotion from the senior three-year starter was the culmination of a season that had fallen apart at just the wrong time.
By the end, third-seeded Liberal (8-1) had racked up 518 yards of offense — the most yielded by Newton’s defense in 2023 — and defeated the 13th-seeded Railers by a dominant 44-0 margin.
It was a far cry from the showing Newton (3-6) head coach Greg Slade’s group had put on just over a month ago when it took down Maize. Since that historic win, injuries and inexperience plagued the Railers. Their persistent lack of depth issues resurfaced. And over the final three games of the campaign, they were outscored 129-27.
“I’ll tell you what, [Liberal’s] quarterback is the real deal,” Slade said. “I’m very impressed by them. [Our] guys played hard. We battled injuries all season. They’ve had to be very resilient and they’ve done that and have become stronger people. We’ve improved a lot and will continue to do that.”
Redskins quarterback J. Brooks Kappelmann indeed lived up to the hype, completing 14 of his 18 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns. It was the Liberal ground game that got the scoring started, however, when Ivan Moreno punched it in with 5:29 left in the first quarter to make it 7-0.
Less than two minutes into the second quarter, Kappelmann tossed his first score of the night to Xavier Tafoya to make it 14-0 and cap off a 96-yard drive. He threw his second touchdown five minutes later to put the Redskins ahead 20-0. By the time just over seven minutes had gone by in the third quarter, Liberal led 32-0, and eventually cruised to the 44-point victory.
Aside from the final possession, the Redskins scored on every drive.
Offensively, Newton seemed to have a bit of life in spurts, but penalties and hefty losses negated any positive momentum. This was most evident when a late would-be 59-yard touchdown catch-and-run by CJ Buffalo was brought back due to a holding call.
The final yardage tally for the Railers was 120 — the fewest since the squad’s week-one loss to Valley Center. As Slade pointed out, though, there’s truly no telling just how limited Newton’s play-calling might have been due to player availability and confidence.
Regardless, those with experience continued to battle. “The kids played hard all year,” Slade said. “We had, by the end of the year, five or six seniors that weren’t even playing [due to injury].
“But you look at the leadership from the guys on the field, Colby [Gomez], Keon [Edwards], and Nick [Ruth] — three of our captains — we had six captains this year and only three of them played most of the year. And [Jackson] Marlar stepped up. Those guys, I’m so proud of them.”
With the result, the Railers finish 3-6 for a second consecutive season. Gomez was 8-of-18 passing for 73 yards and an interception. Kamden Wise led in rushing with 18 yards on eight carries. Edwards led in receiving with 49 yards on nine catches.
The Redskins improve to 8-1 and will host Maize in the second round of the playoffs. Moreno and Xavier Porras each rushed for at least 75 yards and a touchdown. James Fieser led all receivers with 105 yards and a touchdown on five catches.
Full offensive statistics:
Looking ahead: The Railers will prepare to compete in AVCTL-II in 2024. Railer Report’s coverage of the Newton High School football team will continue until further notice. Thank you for following along this season.